Gee makes a compelling case for reframing methods of teaching and learning, but the pedantic tone may put off some readers.



Thinking about thinking in education and the digital age.

The subtitle suggests that the primary focus of the book would be the roles technology can play in the classroom. Gee (Literacy Studies/Arizona State Univ.; What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy, 2003) has a larger agenda, as he gives ancillary consideration to the technology involved and instead takes a broad look at ways of thinking and learning. He weaves over the line between the ills and the benefits of technology, finding examples of rapid collaboration and increased agency through online forums, social media, webcams video games, search tools, virtual worlds and similar connections. At the same time, he considers the shifting relevance of traditionally defined expertise as noncredentialed "amateurs" leverage the Internet to produce expert-level work. Gee’s anecdotal stories are worthy examples of "thinking outside of the box”—e.g., the project to make modifications to the popular game The Sims in an effort to use it to simulate the life of a poor, single mother. The prevailing tone around these anecdotes, however, leans toward a frustrated lecture about these innovative ideas being the exception to the rule. For the most part, it seems, we have become a culture of nincompoops with the cognitive tools necessary to become smarter, but we're either misusing them or disregarding them. “Do we have the will to save ourselves?” asks the author in conclusion. “Will we each sink in our own boat, however large or small it is, or will we bail water together in a journey to a better future?”

Gee makes a compelling case for reframing methods of teaching and learning, but the pedantic tone may put off some readers.

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-230-34209-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2013

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American schools at every level, from kindergarten to postgraduate programs, have substituted ideological indoctrination for education, charges conservative think-tanker Sowell (Senior Fellow/Hoover Institution; Preferential Polices, 1990, etc.) in this aggressive attack on the contemporary educational establishment. Sowell's quarrel with "values clarification" programs (like sex education, death-sensitizing, and antiwar "brainwashing") isn't that he disagrees with their positions but, rather, that they divert time and resources from the kind of training in intellectual analysis that makes students capable of reasoning for themselves. Contending that the values clarification programs inspired by his archvillain, psychotherapist Carl Rogers, actually inculcate values confusion, Sowell argues that the universal demand for relevance and sensitivity to the whole student has led public schools to abdicate their responsibility to such educational ideals as experience and maturity. On the subject of higher education, Sowell moves to more familiar ground, ascribing the declining quality of classroom instruction to the insatiable appetite of tangentially related research budgets and bloated athletic programs (to which an entire chapter, largely irrelevant to the book's broader argument, is devoted). The evidence offered for these propositions isn't likely to change many minds, since it's so inveterately anecdotal (for example, a call for more stringent curriculum requirements is bolstered by the news that Brooke Shields graduated from Princeton without taking any courses in economics, math, biology, chemistry, history, sociology, or government) and injudiciously applied (Sowell's dismissal of student evaluations as responsible data in judging a professor's classroom performance immediately follows his use of comments from student evaluations to document the general inadequacy of college teaching). All in all, the details of Sowell's indictment—that not only can't Johnny think, but "Johnny doesn't know what thinking is"—are more entertaining than persuasive or new.

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 1993

ISBN: 0-02-930330-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1992

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The sub-title of this book is "Reflections on Education with Special Reference to the Teaching of English in the Upper Forms of Schools." But one finds in it little about education, and less about the teaching of English. Nor is this volume a defense of the Christian faith similar to other books from the pen of C. S. Lewis. The three lectures comprising the book are rather rambling talks about life and literature and philosophy. Those who have come to expect from Lewis penetrating satire and a subtle sense of humor, used to buttress a real Christian faith, will be disappointed.

Pub Date: April 8, 1947

ISBN: 1609421477

Page Count: -

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1947

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